Confucius and the rectification of names
|From:||Richard Kennaway <richard@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, May 13, 2007, 12:45|
I recently came across the following quotation from the Analects of
Confucius, via Language Log. In Legge's translation:
"If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the
truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of
things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.
[and so on in a chain of increasing calamities leading to the ruin of
Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he
uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be
carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just
that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."
It has certain echoes in the taxonomical enterprises of the 17th
century in Europe, which motivated philosophical languages such as
that of John Wilkins.
I am wondering if anything similar ever happened in China. Did
Confucius, or anyone else, ever try to carry out such a
"rectification of names".